Berlin's new $7 billion airport has finally opened after 9 years of delays, corruption allegations, and construction woes— see inside
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The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Maja Hitij/Getty
  • Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport opened on October 31 after nine years of delays resulting from faulty construction, design flaws, and corruption allegations.

  • The massive consolidation to the new airport will see Berlin’s smaller airports closed in favor of the sprawling new gateway. 

  • EasyJet and Lufthansa operated the first flights into the airport with Qatar Airways inaugurating a new runway on Wednesday. 

Berlin’s long-awaited Brandenburg Airport has finally opened, nine years behind schedule and 29 years in the making. 

A day that most Berliners thought would never happen, October 31 saw the first flights arrive at the German capital’s first new international airport since the Cold War, with Brandenburg replacing the smaller Tegel and Schönefeld Airports. All travelers arriving in Berlin by air will soon be utilizing the consolidated gateway that shares the name of the famed Brandenburg Gate.

The idea of a unified Berlin gateway airport is almost as old as German reunification itself, according to DW, with plans to build the new airport formed in 1991. Construction didn’t begin until 2006 with a planned opening in 2011, then countless setbacks further delayed the airport’s realization.

Issues surrounding the terminal’s construction, improper fire safety systems, and allegations of corruption made the airport a revolving door for executives, DW reported, who tried and failed to rein in the out-of-control project. But the airport persisted and not even the coronavirus pandemic could further delay its revised 2020 opening plans.

Lufthansa and EasyJet, the latter to be one of the largest carriers at the new airport, marked the official opening with the first flights, following by the first full day of operations on November 1. The German flag carrier even designed a special aircraft livery for one of its Airbus A320neo jets to commemorate the occasion.

Take a look inside the brand-new Berlin Brandenburg Airport. 

Terminals 1 and 2 are the primary achievements of the new airport, comprising the expansive U-shaped structure.

Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Mario Hagen/Shutterstock.com

The old Schonefeld Airport was transformed into Brandenburg Airport’s Terminal 5 shortly before the new terminal’s opening, though nothing will change there. The new Brandenburg site is located on the opposite side of Schonefeld’s former runway.

Berlin’s old Schonefeld Airport. Markus Mainka/Shutterstock.com

Although they couldn’t be more different in look and feel, both airports are now united under one name and one airport code, BER. Just as Berlin unified in 1990, its airports will now do the same.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Patrick Pleul/picture alliance/Getty

Brandenburg Airport is dedicated to German statesman Willy Brandt, a strong advocate for peace and freedom who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971. Signage around the airport will also say “Berlin Brandenburg Airport Willy Brandt.”

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. MICHAEL KAPPELER/POOL/AFP/Getty

Source: The Nobel Foundation

Terminal 1 is the largest at the airport, forming an L-shape and complete with 25 jetway-equipped gates. Most full-service carriers and those with wide-body aircraft will use this terminal.

Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Mario Hagen/Shutterstock.com

Source: Berlin Brandenburg Airport

Terminal 2 houses 12 non-jetway equipped gates, preferred by low-cost carriers as they’re often cheaper to lease. It’s currently not open as the lack of traffic caused by the coronavirus pandemic has further delayed its debut.

Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Mario Hagen/Shutterstock.com

Source: Berlin Brandenburg Airport

The combined area of both terminals is over 3,875,000 square feet with the structure located between the airport’s two runways in what’s known as a midfield terminal configuration.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Maja Hitij/Getty

Source: Berlin Brandenburg Airport

The centerpiece of the airport is the new arrivals and departures hall for Terminal 1.

Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. peter jesche/Shutterstock.com

The rectangular structure features a glass facade with floor-to-ceiling windows, a growing trend in airports around the world, that allows in more natural light and gives the building a spacious feel.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Maja Hitij/Getty

Inside, the main check-in hall serves all passengers using the terminal with 10 piers in total.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Michael Kappeler/picture alliance/Getty

Source: Berlin Brandenburg Airport

It’s also an incredibly modern look compared to the Cold War-era airports that formerly served Berlin.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Patrick Pleul/picture alliance/Getty

Construction had to be slightly altered due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Patrick Pleul/picture alliance/Getty

Plexiglass partitions now found at the check-in counters, and all passengers must wear masks.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty

Source: Berlin Brandenburg Airport

Hanging over the check-in area is an art installation called “The Magic Carpet” from an American artist Pae White.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Michael Kappeler/picture alliance/Getty

Source: ArtNet

It was actually installed over six years ago but this is the firm time the public will get to see it up close.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Maja Hitij/Getty

Source: ArtNet

Though it makes for a stunning first impression, the airport is asking travelers to use online check-in so they can avoid this space as a way to prevent long lines and crowding during the pandemic.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Maja Hitij/Getty

Source: Berlin Brandenburg Airport

Below the check-in area is the arrivals hall with eight baggage carousels.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Patrick Pleul/picture alliance/Getty

The opening didn’t get to see the airport put through its paces as only around 3,000 passengers departed on the first full day of flights in another sign of the pandemic’s impact on air travel.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Patrick Pleul/picture alliance/Getty

Source: Berlin Brandenburg Airport

The departure gates are then just an escalator ride away, following by a trip through the security checkpoint with 36 screening lanes.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Patrick Pleul/picture alliance/Getty

Source: Berlin Brandenburg Airport

The 2,300-foot main pier houses the bulk of the terminal’s gates with 16 jetway-equipped parking stands, as well as retail shops and eateries.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty

Source: Berlin Brandenburg Airport

The south pier features an additional nine jetway-equipped gates intended for smaller aircraft while the Terminal 2 north pier has 12 gates, connected by a walkway to Terminal 1 and the main pier.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty

Source: Berlin Brandenburg Airport

The terminal is stacked vertically with gates for flights departing the Schengen Area located on this upper level.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty

Passport control features both the standard checkpoint and electronic gates with European Union passport holders.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Soeren Stache/picture alliance/Getty

Come November 8, Brandenburg will be the sole airport for Berlin, ending a decades-long chapter in German aviation.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Michael Kappeler/picture alliance/Getty

Berlin’s Tegel Airport to the north of the city will be closed, with Berliners showing their appreciation with the hashtag “DankeTXL.”

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Jörg Carstensen/picture alliance/Getty

Source: Berlin Brandenburg Airport

And while most were celebrating the long-awaited debut of the new airport, one group was protesting it.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty

Extinction Rebellion, an environmentalist group, staged a sit-in at the new terminal during its opening, protesting aviation’s use of fossil fuels.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Patrick Pleul/picture alliance/Getty

Source: Reuters

Ironically, Lufthansa and EasyJet had brought two of their most fuel-efficient jets to celebrate the opening.

Lufthansa and EasyJet planes at Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. HANNIBAL HANSCHKE/POOL/AFP/Getty

EasyJet had ferried the aircraft from Tegel to Brandenburg, a quick flight across the city.

EasyJet’s inaugural flight to Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Christoph Soeder/picture alliance/Getty

Lufthansa had flown in from Munich with the flight number LH2020.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Peter Kneffel/picture alliance/Getty

The Airbus A320neos parked face to face for the traditional water cannon salute, welcoming the airlines to the new airport.

Lufthansa and EasyJet planes at Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty

They were supposed to both land on Brandenburg’s two runways at the same time but poor weather had put a stop to that plan.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Christoph Soeder/picture alliance/Getty

EasyJet then flew the first commercial flight on November 1 from Berlin to London using the new terminal.

An EasyJet Airbus A320 at Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Patrick Pleul/picture alliance/Getty

Source: Berlin Brandenburg Airport

The British low-cost carrier began operations in the new terminal with no delay as the largest carrier in Berlin, operating flights across Europe.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Adam Berry/Getty

Source: Centre for Aviation

Lufthansa brought one of its newly-delivered A320neos, covered with Berlin-themed tickets, including one of the airport code.

A Lufthansa Airbus A320neo at Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty

The jet is known as the “hauptstadtflieger,” or the “capital flyer.”

A Lufthansa Airbus A320neo at Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Peter Kneffel/picture alliance/Getty

Qatar Airways, soon after, kicked off intercontinental service to the Middle East with its daily service from Doha using a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.

A Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner at the opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Patrick Pleul/picture alliance/Getty

On November 4, Qatar Airways also became the first airline to use the airport’s south runway, upgrading the flight to the Airbus A350-900 XWB just for the occasion.

A Qatar Airways Airbus A350-900 XWB at f Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty

Source: Berlin Brandenburg Airport

The German Air Force is also setting up shop at the new airport with a dedicated government terminal.

Germany’s “Air Force One” at the opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Soeren Stache/picture alliance/Getty

One familiar face is the new German “Air Force One,” an Airbus A350-900 XWB delivered earlier this year.

Germany’s “Air Force One” at the opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Soeren Stache/picture alliance/Getty

Read More: Germany just took delivery of its new VIP plane that will fly the country’s top government officials – take a look

United Airlines will become the first US airline to fly to Brandenburg Airport in March when it begins service from Newark, the only scheduled route between Berlin and the US.

A United Airlines Boeing 767-300ER. Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

The airport is expected to serve 55 million people by 2040 and plans to expand the airport are already in the works.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Patrick Pleul/picture alliance/Getty

Source: Berlin Brandenburg Airport

A master plan calls for the addition of two concourses and an expansion of “airport city,” the developments and businesses surrounding the terminal.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Patrick Pleul/picture alliance/Getty

Source: Berlin Brandenburg Airport

Now, Berliners can finally enjoy the airport for which they’ve waited nearly three decades.

The opening of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport. Maja Hitij/Getty

Read the original article on Business Insider

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